Swimming pools, hot tubs and local lakes and beaches can be dangerous places, but not just because of the risk of drowning. Water can play host to disease-carrying organisms with such alien-sounding names as Cryptosporidium, E. coli and Shigella.
1. Take those "no swimming" signs seriously. If your local health department has posted a particular swimming hole off limits, find another place to cool off.
2. Ask for records. Any public pool should have daily records on chlorination and how often the pool is cleaned and treated. If your local pool can't provide these records, don't swim there.
3. Keep your mouth closed. Try not to swallow the water while you swim, and tell your kids to do the same.
4. If you have a kiddy pool at home, change the water daily. Empty out the wading pool and leave it to dry overnight. When you have standing, still water, the risk of infection grows, and some of the microbes that multiply in standing water can cause serious illness.
5. Do your bit to prevent disease transmission. Take a shower before you use the local pool. If you have a child in diapers, consider swaddling his or her little rear end in specially made "swimming" diapers or plastic pants. And bear in mind that even these won't prevent all leakage.
Too many children younger than age 5 drown each year in residential swimming pools.
Here's how to safeguard your child: